Thursday, February 15, 2007

Honor Killing


The United Nations Population Fund estimates that the annual worldwide total of honor killing victims may be as high as 5,000 women...

Sharif Kanaana, professor of anthropology at Birzeit University states that honor killing is:

A complicated issue that cuts deep into the history of Arab society... What the men of the family, clan, or tribe seek control of in a patrilineal society is reproductive power. Women for the tribe were considered a factory for making men. The honor killing is not a means to control sexual power or behavior. What's behind it is the issue of fertility, or reproductive power.

An Amnesty International statement adds:

The mere perception that a woman has contravened the code of sexual behavior damages honor. The regime of honor is unforgiving: women on whom suspicion has fallen are not given an opportunity to defend themselves, and family members have no socially acceptable alternative but to remove the stain on their honor by attacking the woman. More.
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Image above: Ibtihaz Hasoun after being killed in an honor killing.
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Some experts estimate that 200 to 300 honor killings like Zahra's occur every year in Syria. Most receive little or no attention. But Zahra's murder – in part because it happened in the capital and not a rural area – has compelled Syria's grand mufti, cleric Ahmad Hassoun, to publicly condemn the crime, calling for the first time for the immediate protection of girls at risk and for legal reform on the basis that such crimes are un-Islamic. President Bashar al-Assad has also promised to find a solution...Syria's law is lenient on a man who kills or injures his female relative if he catches her in "illegitimate sexual acts with another," or in a "suspicious state with another." If Zahra's brother is tried under this law, he might get out of jail in three months.

Image: Sahjda Bibi was the victim of an honour killing.

+ Police urged to reopen 'honour killing' cases: The deaths and disappearances of more than 100 Asian women could be reopened to rule out the possibility of "honour killings". The suicide rate among Asian women aged 16 to 24 is almost three times that of the general population. Experts fear 117 women who died over the past 10 years may have been killed or driven to take their own lives after being persecuted for bringing perceived "dishonour" on their families.
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Despite increasingly stiff penalties for honor killings, women say courts still take the man's side. "They excuse men; they say men have the right to kill," said one woman.

Ibtihaz Hasoun, accused of shaming her family, was recently stabbed to death by her brother, who had summoned villagers to watch him murder his "fallen sister." The villagers celebrated the honor killing. "She married someone outside the village," said one man. "We would do the same thing."

Forty years ago, Kamel Hader killed his unmarried sister when she came home pregnant. Today, he vows he would do it again. "If a woman does something wrong you are supposed to kill her to regain family honor," Hader said. "Otherwise, we live in shame."

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